Vale Margaret McLellan, 1942-2022

October 27, 2022
Margaret McLellan and Steve O'Brien. Photo: Supplied

Margaret joined the Newcastle branch of Socialist Alliance when it formed in the early 2000. She told us she had finally ended her search to find and join a party.

Margaret had been a member of the Communist Party of Australia, before it dissolved.

Her funeral was held at St Kevin’s in Cardiff, where she was a long-time parishioner, including during the time when Father Terry O’Brien was a parish priest there in the 1970s. He was frequently in strife with the local Catholic hierarchy for supporting the “preferential option for the poor”.

Among the projects which the parish, and Margaret, supported was practical aid for oppressed Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The writings of Dorothy Day helped take Margaret in a socialist direction. Day founded the Catholic Worker Movement and organised non-violent direct action in support of the poor and homeless in the United States.

As part of her activism, informed by Marxism and liberation theology, Margaret travelled to East Timor, visited refugees in the Villawood Detention Centre and was involved in the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and Christians for Peace.

Margaret made a huge effort in her final years to attend meetings and protests, often wearing her crucifix and a cap emblazoned with a red star.

She donated generously to Green Left, Socialist Alliance and refugee organisations.

Embroidery, writing and counselling were among her many talents, with poetry being her standout.

Niko Leka’s introduction in her book of poetry, A String of Pearls, reads: “Each of these poems is a pearl. Precious, priceless, that both conceals and reveals an intensely personal and yet universal world”.

Below is one of our favourites.

Cleaning Up

I washed my thoughts,
Hung them out to dry
On the washing line
Of a new perspective.

I sent my attitudes
To the dry cleaners
For stain removal
By experts.

I vacuum cleaned
The recesses of my soul
Sucking up the dust:
Old hurts, hidden resentments.

The beauty laid bare surprised me.
Under the grime
A person I had glimpsed
Only in dreams.

Our condolences to Margaret’s husband Max and their two daughters.

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